Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 1st Feb 2018 19:29 UTC
Internet & Networking

China's most popular messaging app, WeChat, has always had a close relationship with the Chinese government. The app has been subsidized by the government since its creation in 2011, and it's an accepted reality that officials censor and monitor users. Now, WeChat is poised to take on an even greater role: an initiative is underway to integrate WeChat with China's electronic ID system.

WeChat is a remarkably clever move by the Chinese government. Everybody over there is already using it, and by basically co-opting it, they get a free statewide monitoring and control platform. Ban a few western alternatives here and there, and you're done. Western nations are toying with similar ideas - see e.g. Germany's new laws - and it doesn't take a genius to see the dangers here. While you may 'trust' your current government to not abuse such wide-ranging laws and technical capabilities, you might not be so eager with the next one. If Americans can vote for a Trump, Europeans can, too.

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RE[3]: Choose your poison
by benoitb on Fri 2nd Feb 2018 07:40 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Choose your poison"
benoitb
Member since:
2010-06-29

What is your opinion on South Korea then for example ?
It is a young democracy, they recently successfully managed to impeach their president. They however require your national ID to register for ANY online service (from e-shopping, blogs, to online gaming). South Korea is a vassal country of the USA.

What about the trend in American online services to require your real name to be used ? To require you to hand over your username and password to all online accounts when crossing the border ? Democracy or not ?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Choose your poison
by shepherdr on Fri 2nd Feb 2018 08:57 in reply to "RE[3]: Choose your poison"
shepherdr Member since:
2006-01-19

I haven't formed an opinion on S Korea. I don't know enough about it. Giving a real name to subscribe to a service seems reasonable to me. It seems that only the online world finds it desirable to hide ones identity. I can't think of a real world service that I have subscribed to that I was allowed to write "anonymous" in the name section of the application form. Anonymous expression of opinion does occur in the real world (graffiti for example) but not when registering for a service

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: Choose your poison
by benoitb on Fri 2nd Feb 2018 09:39 in reply to "RE[4]: Choose your poison"
benoitb Member since:
2010-06-29

The problem with online services is the ease with which you can make complete profiles on too many facets of one individual.

Traditionally it was more difficult I think to access and dig information from different physical companies that would keep the info they had on you to themselves. I could be wrong on that aspect but this is the main reason why I prefer using different pseudos in different places.

Reply Parent Score: 2

fukudasan Member since:
2006-06-04

As I have been living in South Korea for fifteen years or so, let me add a few comments here:

As a foreign national working here (as an English language instructor), there are an increased number of documentary requirements imposed which increased in the wake of the Lee Myung-bak election in December 2007.

Firstly, foreign residents (engaged in teaching languages) were required to submit printouts from their nations' criminal records systems to prove that they had no criminal record. In my case, being from the UK, this turned out to be both cheap and simple, if somewhat time-consuming (at least six weeks from the time that the application form and payment were received). The process was started after a certain Canadian suspected paedophile was arrested AFTER leaving the country on the basis of his monitored online soliciting activities.

Later, it was decided that applicants for E2 visas (and probably others) should submit notarised copies of their original Degree certificates with their applications. Some time after that, they decided that this was not enough, and that copies of Degrees should be first notarised and then apostilled, which of course added more time, excessive cost and general inconvenience to the process. But it was not possible, at an international level, to have any "higher" certification of authenticity for any document, so they could not progress beyond that point.

Despite originating from a "government-friendly" source, criminal record printouts also now have to be apostilled, again greatly adding to the cost, although the turnaround time for this is much shorter. Payments are taken online.

A successful applicant is issued with a three-month entry visa (by e-mail nowadays; when I first came to Korea, I had the famous "Blue Form" instead) or, if already resident, the visa is renewed, usually for twelve months (to cover the time period of the employment contract) plus thirty days' grace to either arrange to leave the country or to find a new contract.

As the whole system is now both computerised and fully integrated, if you decide to stay, you just fill in a standard form to transfer your visa and you get another twelve months on your ARC (see below); only in exceptional circumstances are you asked to submit new criminal records, for example. Whereas the visa used to be stamped into your passport when issued, they transitioned first to printed stickers and nowadays simply retain your visa information on their computer system, which can be confusing for a foreign passport holder.

Documents are scanned and retained on the system and you can request printed copies to present to other Immigration Offices when you swap jobs.

The foreigner is also issued with a plastic Alien Registration Card (ARC) with their residential address and the term of the visa printed on it. If you leave the country briefly, nowadays you do not have to leave it behind with Customs, as you used to have to.

An individual is in fact allowed to leave the country for up to three months before they have to submit new documents for immigration; it is also possible to apply for a D10 (Jobseeker) visa, which can last for up to six months before you must transfer to another (E2 in my case) visa. But you can do all of these things without leaving the country.

When the new document requirements kicked it, it became apparent quickly that it was becoming an expensive and time-consuming headache to process, and eventually it was standardised so that foreigners already resident in the country, who were transferring between visa sponsors, could stay on the basis that when they entered, they had produced the correct documents and had not left the country in the interim. I am still here on documents issued in 2011, for example.

Barring a few oddities here and there, it seems to have worked quite well. As an extreme example, in November last year I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and had to spent the first half of January in hospital having it removed by laparoscopy and then being monitored (a small, tight Korean cancer ward does not recommend itself to a person who would describe himself as "solitude-oriented", believe me). However, because I am a registered foreign national contributing to the national health system, the state pays 95% of treatment costs, so I only had to contribute the remaining residual, which came out at a little under ₩2,000,000 - about ₤1600.00 at the previous exchange rate.

I am not a naturalised Korean citizen, so I am not allowed to vote, but when it comes to legal thingies, I do not go around committing crimes and generally the police here are laid-back and helpful; they often pack heat but you are unlikely to get yourself shot by them or by any armed forces (I used to teach mainly soldiers at the KDLI [Joint Military University], so I do know those people, too). A "real name" is obviously needed for the issuance of credit and debit cards (they finally gave me one of each) and your address needs to be notified to Immigration when you change it, but that's about it.

And no, you do NOT have to submit your ARC Number (ID) for EVERY service here, just some of them. Obviously this was necessary for my cancer treatment because I am a tax payer for as long as I am here, and therefore I need to prove legal entitlement. Likewise, it is used when receiving items sent by courier from abroad, like my new VISA Card back in December, to identify the recipient.

But I have never had any visits from the likes of the police or customs officials, for example. And I think that the Koreans that I interact with are generally happy to be shown that I am "known to the authorities", so to speak. But generally, South Korea is not so bad, really.

Reply Parent Score: 1